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The Right Words at the Right Time: Your Turn!
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The Right Words at the Right Time: Your Turn!

4.5 7
by Marlo Thomas (Editor), Bruce Kluger (Editor), Carl Robbins (Editor), David Tabatsky (Editor)

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From big cities to farm communities, from office cubicles to hospital wards, from Normandy Beach to Boston's Fenway Park, the contributors to this remarkable volume — selected from among thousands in a nationwide search — tell riveting stories about the words that changed their lives forever.

You'll meet a "Plain Jane" from


From big cities to farm communities, from office cubicles to hospital wards, from Normandy Beach to Boston's Fenway Park, the contributors to this remarkable volume — selected from among thousands in a nationwide search — tell riveting stories about the words that changed their lives forever.

You'll meet a "Plain Jane" from Seattle, whose world was rocked by a passing remark made by her favorite musician, backstage at a concert. You'll hear from the bereaved fiancé of a 9/11 victim, who found hope in a note pinned to a teddy bear. You'll laugh with a beleaguered soccer mom, who reveals the single phrase she never wants to hear again. And your heart will break for a prison inmate, who recalls the one piece of advice he still wishes he took.

In each case, words had made all the difference.

Marlo Thomas has once again tapped into the human spirit, assembling a breathtaking collection of beautiful and inspiring essays about the enduring power of words, and how their impact can last a lifetime. As a follow-up to her 2002 New York Times #1 bestseller, The Right Words at the Right Time, Thomas presents 101 new first-person stories that are at once universal and strikingly personal.

Like the tale of a Gulf War veteran, whose life was transformed by just two words spoken by a young stranger at a Burger King. Or the aimless garage mechanic, who found salvation in a Help Wanted ad. Or the unsuspecting mother of three, who made a heart-warming discovery about her grandmother's "racy past."

As thisastonishing anthology proves,the "right words" can come from anywhere — the pages of a dusty old songbook, the pulpit of a neighborhood church, the wreckage of Ground Zero, a hand-stitched sampler hanging on a wall, and a child's simple expression of love.

The Right Words at the Right Time, Volume 2: Your Turn! is a collection to be read and read again — a volume that will be cherished both by fans of the original book and anyone who has ever been touched by the startling and life-affirming magic of words.

Marlo Thomas is the National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Net proceeds from the sale of The Right Words at the Right Time Volume 2: Your Turn! are donated to the hospital, and this brief video clip illustrates the wonderful work they do there.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Well-known actress and author Thomas has compiled a delightful follow-up to her best-selling first volume of Right Words (2002), which demonstrates the power of the right words at the right time by "ordinary" Americans. Of the thousands of essays that were submitted to her, Thomas chose 101 inspirational tales of life-altering experiences. The stories involve a grieving 9/11 victim's fianc who found a comforting note pinned to a teddy bear and a young privileged prisoner who received advice from an older inmate. This anthology is sure to encourage readers to remember their own "right words" and to appreciate everyday interactions. Recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/05.] Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Atria Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.10(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt


I never saw the woman's face. I only heard her voice.

It was spring of 2002, and I was in the middle of a radio interview, talking about my new book, The Right Words at the Right Time, in which I had asked 108 famous people -- people I admired -- to write about the words that changed their lives. Halfway through the interview, a listener called the station and told a story that would stay with me.

Her teenage son had been in a terrible car accident, the woman said, and as she sat in the hospital waiting to learn his fate, two doctors prepared her for the worst.

"You have to know when to let go," said the first doctor, gently warning her that her son was probably not going to make it. The second doctor, believing that her child might pull through, cautioned her that, due to his injuries, he'd never be the same again. Then he added, "But life is precious."

Both men were telling the truth as they saw it, the caller explained, but their words couldn't have been more different.

"I sat there trying to decide which words I would hold on to through that night," she remembered, confessing that neither scenario was something she'd ever dreamed of happening to her son. "But in the end, I hung on to the words of the second doctor. Because life is so precious. And these were the words that gave me strength to endure the life trial that was to come."

The woman was so honest, and her account so moving. I'd been hearing stories like this ever since the book had come out. Everywhere I went, people were eager to tell me about the right words in their lives. In airports. At book signings. Incountless, heartfelt letters sent through the mail.

That day in the radio station, I was reminded that we're surrounded by heroes everywhere -- and I thought about how exciting it would be to assemble a new collection of right words stories, not from celebrities this time, but from everyday Americans.

Famous people have lots of opportunities to be heard. This book would provide a voice for everyone else.

The more I thought about the idea, the more I realized that the best way to find stories for the book would be to cast a net across the country -- along both coasts and through the heartland. And so we did. We announced a nationwide contest in the pages of the paperback edition of Right Words, asking readers to search their memories for that vivid moment in their lives when words made all the difference. We set up a website for online submissions. We hung posters in hospitals and military posts, in schools and police stations and prisons. And Parade magazine, which had been a champion of the first book, lent a hand by soliciting stories from its readers.

It didn't take long for millions of thoughtful words to suddenly materialize around me -- riveting, well-rendered letters, more than a thousand all together, from 30 states and three countries. Reading them late into the night was a joy, but choosing the 101 essays that would appear in this book was daunting. People didn't simply send us random thoughts that strung together a few memorable words from their past. They sent us their stories, pieces of their lives.

As I'd learned from the first book, the right words can transform us. They can challenge us at a crossroads; they can help us through times of sorrow; they can dare us to action. They can be spoken with love or shouted in anger. The right words can be funny words, thought-provoking words, words that prop us up when we think we can go no further.

And they can be found almost anywhere -- in a poem or a songbook, illuminated on a computer screen, stitched onto a wall-hanging, or scratched into the dirt with a wooden stick.

Whether set in a small schoolhouse on the plains of Wyoming or in a Zen Buddhist monastery in Japan, each story we received sprang from the heart. For Michael Raysses of Los Angeles and Nebraskan Steve Martinez, the right words were spoken by strangers, one at a Starbucks, the other in an emergency room. Arizonian Susyn Reeve learned about human compassion, thanks to a chance encounter in a rainstorm. A teenage employee of Burger King grasped Floridian Tim Ciciora's hand and spoke two words that almost made a tough guy cry.

And for four special contributors to this book, words alone helped them extract a measure of hope from the devastating heartbreak of September 11th.

As the nights wore on and the stacks of letters grew, I became increasingly awed by the bounty of truth that surrounded me. I am a wiser person, I think, for having taken the journeys so eloquently recounted in the pages of this book. And I'm thankful for the generous spirit of our contributors, whose strong and intimate and touchingly personal stories may help all of us to find our own right words.

Marlo Thomas

New York City Spring, 2006

Copyright ©2006 by The Right Words, LLC

Meet the Author

Marlo Thomas graduated from the University of Southern California with a teaching degree. She is the author of five bestselling books, Free to Be ...You and Me, Free to Be...a Family, The Right Words at the Right Time, Thanks and Giving: All Year Long, and The Right Words at the Right Time Volume 2: Your Turn! Ms. Thomas has won four Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe, a Grammy, the Peabody Award, and has been inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame for her work in television, including her starring role in the landmark series That Girl, which she also conceived and produced. She is the National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Ms. Thomas lives in New York with her husband, Phil Donahue.

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Right Words at the Right Time 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Right Words at the Right Time, edited by Marlo Thomas, is a book about turning points, shifts in people¿s lives that allow them to grow and expand. Over 100 successful actors writers, musicians, athletes, artists and journalists share moments in their lives when words spoken to them had a profound effect. I really enjoyed how honest and diverse all of these stories are. Whether the person acted in opposition to what was said to them ¿ Muhammed Ali won the Gold Medal at the Olympics at seventeen after a teacher told him he wouldn¿t ever be ¿nuthin¿¿ when he was twelve years old ¿ or whether they received words of encouragement ¿ like Marlo Thomas herself, whose father told her to ¿run her own race¿ ¿ it was inspiring to see how making a difference in someone¿s life makes a huge difference in the world. While the book has a clear appeal by virtue of its use of celebrities, the impact of each story springs from its simplicity and humanity. If making a difference in people¿s lives and in your own life turns you on, I highly recommend the book Working On Yourself Doesn¿t Work by Ariel & Shya Kane. This book explores the phenomenon of transformation, a shift away from mechanical, habitual ways of relating towards being present to each moment of your life and letting magic, ease, success and well being into your life everyday.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Marlo Thomas has assembled a large, impressive, and diverse cast of characters, and the accounts they share vary widely. You can read the book in order, or choose to flip from one celebrity's story to another. Some accounts are truly personal-- Billy Crystal's or Ellen DeGeneres's, for example. Others, like Hillary Clinton's, are no surprise and are in keeping with their public persona. Either way, there's much to be learned here, and the fact that Ms. Thomas has managed to pull this together (and is donating proceeds to her father's charity) is impressive. Also read 'Open Your Mind, Open Your Life' by Taro Gold -- another great book of wisdom.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This woman has inspired me my entire life. This is a soul touching collection that speaks towards finding inner strenth.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Right Words at the Right Time is the perfect book for a recent graduate or someone making a life change. Its many stories show how various celebrities became successful because of wise words from others. The stories are fascinating, and give you an insight into what drives or inspires that celebrity to success. Many of the lessons and words can apply to anyone. And an added benefit of the purchase of the book is that all profits from the book are given to St. Judes Hospital for Children.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's better to learn from other people's experiences sometimes. You'll be wiser after reading this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Inspirational true stories about making a difference in someone's life.